- Neal Ferreira has become a familiar face to BYSO, having performed in six of BYSO’s operas. We sat down with Neal to learn a bit more about the life of an opera singer and his experience singing with BYSO.
BYSO: What is a typical “day in the life” of a professional opera singer?
NF: For me, my typical day varies greatly depending on whether I am working at home or on the road. I have three children and my wife works full time, so when I’m home much of my day revolves around getting the kids off to school in the morning, cleaning up around the house, helping them with homework when they get home, cooking dinner, and shuttling them to practices and lessons in the evening. I also teach voice lessons and sing regularly in churches all over the area, so my wife and I are often juggling our schedules to make sure one of us is home for the kids. No matter how crazy my day is though, it is very important for me to find time to exercise and practice. Those two things help to keep me grounded and feeling good.
When I’m traveling for a show, there is much more time to spread out. I allow myself to sleep in a little bit more, then after breakfast I always start the day with some kind of exercise (running, lifting, cycling, yoga). Before the day’s rehearsal I give myself some time to get caught up on emails, do a little warming up and practicing, and spend a while going through the music and scenes we will be working on that day. Depending on the schedule for the day, I like to get out and explore the town a bit, visit a coffee shop, and make sure to get in some reading or score study for upcoming projects. If there is a performance that day, I try to take it easy as much as I can so that I am rested and ready to give my best performance. Establishing a routine is important for me when I’m on the road. I think that is true for most singers I know, although everyone certainly has their own individual needs and preferences.
- BYSO: When did you decide to pursue a professional life in music?
NF: I remember the exact moment – it was my senior year of high school. One afternoon I was driving from jazz band practice at my school (I played the clarinet and saxophone) to our sister school where I was rehearsing for their spring musical. The weekend prior I was lucky enough to perform as part of the RI All-State Festival Chorus. I had all of these musical experiences running through my head and I thought, “I love all of these things so much. If I can make make my life in music, whether it be playing in a band or performing on stage or singing in a chorus, that would be pretty amazing.” I never thought for a moment that I would end up as an opera singer, but life has a funny way of working out the way you least expect it and putting you exactly where you’re supposed to be.
- BYSO: How is it different to sing with a youth orchestra versus an adult professional orchestra?
NF: I need to start by saying that I am so beyond impressed by these kids every single time I work with them. Their level of musicianship and dedication at that age is awe-inspiring. They play incredibly well, and I love that they seem to really enjoy the process.
The biggest difference I notice is rehearsal time. With a professional orchestra, you probably only have two or three rehearsals with them prior to performance. There is little time to work things extensively and truly gel as an ensemble. Of course everyone is a pro and you know the final product will be good, but it often feels rather rushed. Working with the BYSO is a real treat for us to be able to spend many hours over multiple weeks working with the orchestra. With opera it is important for the kids to learn how to listen to the voice, and this helps the singers to feel settled and confident that we know what to expect. By the time the performance arrives, we are all actually feeling the music together as opposed to just doing our part and hoping for the best.
- BYSO: What are your other hobbies and interests?
NF: I really enjoy reading, although I don’t get nearly as much time to do it as I would like. I tend to focus on books about music or religion and spirituality, but I am also a big fan of novels. I try my best to keep up with what my kids are reading, but that’s a losing battle. When the weather is nice, I am an avid frisbee golfer. I keep my discs in my car just in case I have an hour to spare and can pop out for a quick round. In the last few years I have taught myself to play the guitar and ukulele, so I’m often learning new songs and fiddling around late into the evenings. I am a serviceable carpenter and home handyman, which is good because I own a big old Victorian house. I always have a number of projects going at any given time. Oh, and I’m a Boston sports nut.
- BYSO: What advice do you have for our young musicians?
NF: Practice. Practice for yourself. Practice for the sake of practicing. Make it a daily habit and enjoy it! If you’re really passionate about being a professional musician, keep working towards your goals and don’t give up. This business is tough and the attrition rate is high. The people who succeed are usually the ones who stick with it long enough for their opportunity to come along. Be open to what comes and don’t be afraid to forge your own path. Your career does not have to look like anyone else’s for you to be happy. Above all, make music because you love it.
You can come hear Neal perform in Bizet’s Carmen with the Boston Youth Symphony on Sunday, January 28 at Sanders Theatre!
Neal’s roles with BYSO:
- Le Remendado, Bizet’s Carmen, 2018
Roderigo, Verdi’s Otello, 2016
Amelia’s servant/Judge in Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera, 2015
Spoletta in Puccini’s Tosca, 2014
Borsa in Verdi’s Rigoletto, 2013
Bardolfo in Verdi’s Falstaff, 2012
- Le Remendado, Bizet’s Carmen, 2018
- Pictured: Neal performs the role of Roderigo in BYSO’s production of Verdi’s Otello, January 2016. Also pictured: Weston Hurt. Photo by Michael Lutch.
BYSO is excited to be celebrating its 60th anniversary this season. We hope you will join us by liking and sharing our new organizational video! Be sure to share and follow us on Youtube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter! #BYSO60 #FacesOfBYSO
BYSO held its annual holiday concert on December 10. Students from the Intensive Community Program played holiday favorites for an appreciative crowd. Enjoy some photos taken by our photographer Michael Lutch! Visit our Facebook page for photos
In October BYSO held its annual Concerto Competition for members of Repertory Orchestra and Boston Youth Symphony and we are delighted to announce the following winners:
Boston Youth Symphony
Winner: Emily Qiu, Bassoon. Concerto in F Major – Weber
“My experiences with BYSO have influenced me in many ways, but most of all, they’ve pushed me to step outside of my comfort zone – to play out and make my voice heard. Being part of such a high-caliber group is often demanding, and as a result, I’ve been able to develop more confidence in myself and my abilities as a player. Whether it’s a bad reed day, rough rehearsal, or anything in between, BYSO has taught me to face every challenge head on, which has definitely been an important skill in my life.” – Emily Qiu, Bassoon, BYS Concerto Competition Winner
Winner: Liam Barthelmy, Violin. Concerto for Violin in E minor, mvt. 1 – Mendelssohn
“BYSO has given me the incredible opportunity to play music every week with a high level orchestra, both as an ensemble member and now as a soloist! BYSO also has a great community which has connected me with many other kids who share my love of music. The thing I love most about BYSO is the way it constantly challenges both my technical and ensemble skills in a way that I’ve never been challenged before, and the incredible feeling when performing the beautiful music that we have worked on for so long .” -Liam Barthelmy , Violin, REP Concerto Competition Winner
Emily will perform her piece on May 27th at Kresge Auditorium at MIT and Liam will perform his piece on February 11th at Tsai Performance Center. Congratulations to all who entered. The panel of judges for both competitions were overwhelmed by the amount of talent and hard work displayed by all of the musicians.
In This Edition:
- BYSO Archival Exhibit on display at Symphony Hall
- Alumni Spotlight Katie Scheele ’97
- revised BYSO history book released for purchase
- BYSO Opera presents Bizet’s Carmen on Jan. 28th
- Save the date for #GivingTuesday November 28th
- Do you want to join our ENOTES mailing list and receive our bi-monthly newsletter? Click here to join
BYSO is excited to announce its 2017-2018 Chamber Master Class series!
Master class clinicians work with musicians and chamber music groups from the Boston Youth Symphony. These events are free and open to the public, and all BYSO members are encouraged to attend. All master classes take place at the Boston University College of Fine Arts Concert Hall, located at 855 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston. Click on a link below for more information and to reserve your seat!
November 5th: Viola and Chamber Master Class with Marcus Thompson, violist and Artistic Director of Boston Chamber Music Society
December 3rd: Violin and Chamber Master Class with Elizabeth Chang, violinist
March 4: TBD
April 22: Violin and Chamber Master Class with Peter Zazofsky, violinist
To learn more about BYSO’s Chamber Music Program, click here.
For more information or to subscribe, visit www.BYSOweb.org/tickets
9/20 Update: We are no longer accepting applications to ICP Strings Fall 2017 Recruitment.
WHO: Students ages 4-7 (as of September 1, 2017) who are interested in experiencing classical music may apply. No prior musical experience is necessary!
HOW: Interested families must submit an application form and application fee for each interested student.
To apply, fill out the form below. You will receive an e-mail notifying you that your application has been received. Space is limited and will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis.
Application deadline is Wednesday, September 20!
PROCESS: BYSO will interview up to 100 children and families. 32 children will be selected to join our fall 2017 Music Workshop Series. In January 2018, 16-20 of those children will advance into the program. Once admitted, ICP students are provided with: use of an instrument, weekly lessons, ensemble class, summer workshops, and access to need based financial aid.
APPLICATION FEE: $5, payable by credit card, cash, or check made out to BYSO
QUESTIONS: Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or (617) 353-5330
Hundreds of children from throughout Greater Boston are achieving excellence through classical music at BYSO. Every one of these children starts from a different place—age, socioeconomic background and culture. Their commonality is achieving artistic excellence, and in turn they recognize and strive for it in all areas of their life. Every pathway they take is unique and their transformation is distinctly their own.
On May 9, 2017, we celebrated the extraordinary young musicians of BYSO—past, present and future, in support each of their unique pathways to excellence at the BYSO 7th Annual Gala & Auction, A Toast to Tomorrow: Pathways to Excellence at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Filmed and edited by Transformative Culture Project